South Burnett league identity's big move to NRL club
BLAKE Mara will soon go from being a big fish in the small South Burnett pond, to swimming in a much bigger pond that's home to slimy eels.
The NRL game development officer for the region has recently accepted another NRL role based in NSW with the Parramatta Eels.
"There my job will be similar stuff, but more I'll be doing coach education and high schools programs," Mara said.
"That's right up my alley."
While the former Under 20s Melbourne Storm player is not heading to the Eels on a playing contract, he is looking forward to finding a team down south to lace up for.
"I will be putting the boots on," he said.
"I won't be giving that up, it'll just be where.
"I am obviously not there to play NRL with the Eels - that would be nice, the money would be nice too."
Relocating south is a daunting move, but Mara believes it is a step in the right direction for his career.
"My main ambition is to one day coach, which is a big part of the reason behind the move," he said.
"I just think being down there where the big contacts are is the challenge."
Mara said he had loved every minute of his time in the South Burnett and would take a lot of professional and life lessons from the region.
"I'll miss the people," he said.
"So many people out here have accepted me into their lives."
Mara has made some significant in-roads in boosting the strength of rugby league in the South Burnett competition.
His fingerprints are recognisable on successful programs such as Beyond the Nest, and Brisbane Bronco clinics that drew hundreds of participants.
The humble Mara puts it all down to the hard-working volunteers in the junior rugby league clubs.
"All the stuff that we have achieved has been all because the volunteers have been so willing," he said.
Mara said while he was going to a much bigger region, the foundations of his role would not change.
"It's all just been relationships," he said.
"Word of mouth is a big thing, especially in this region."
Mara will leave the South Burnett at the end of September.